Regional Representation Breeds Tribalism in South Sudan

By Dr. James Okuk

April 16, 2011 (SSNA) — Some of us who got privileged to study politics of democracy academically and/or got involved in some political activities at times, really wonder whether many of the so-called leaders in Southern Sudan understand their public statements. For a SPLM Governor to utter power-politics nonsense like "Second Vice President", "Thirty Ambassadors", "Two Positions in Supreme Federal Ministries" and "Equal Representation in Ministries/Political Appointment for Equatoria Region", makes a good show-case that South Sudan is still distance away from multi-party liberal constitutional democracy as expected and desired.

When enlightened Southerners and International Community are campaigning hard for broad-based multi-party interim government of the Republic of South Sudan by July 2011 before a competitive fair democratic elections take place by the end of 2013, yet some dull SPLM Equatorian Governors and others are seriously recommending shameful ideas detrimental to the thrive of multi-party governance system in the emerging new country.

Unless these politically dull Governors and their supporters want to prove that Equatoria Region has become or is becoming a political party to reckon with rather than a geographical location, I am of the idea that they need to be taken to some USA democratic institutes for better knowledge of how multi-party democratic politics should work better than mere regional demonstration.

It would have made great sense if the dull Governor could have encouraged Equatorians to get involved in as many political parties as South Sudan could have and climb their power seeking ladders from there in whatever opportunity avails itself; be it the presidential or deputy or premier post, ministerial post, ambassadorial posts, parliamentary posts, etc.

Otherwise, this thing called Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and Upper Nile regional representations must be brought to an end in multi-party democratic practice and constitutional posts appointments in South Sudan, lest tribalism is going to remain as the yardstick in many things in the nascent country. Of course I am not against the value of tribes in South Sudan but the vice of tribalism.

The Republic of South Sudan should focus on how to built robust political parties who should compete fairly and democratically in politics of attaining government power rather than entertaining geographical regional blocs of tribalism. Even if Equatoria geographical representation is granted, still we will be faced by the equation of who is a Western, Eastern or Central Equatorian in the power-getting game. Also, if we take Central Equatoria as a case point, still we will be faced by the question of who is a Bari, Nyanggwara, Kakwa, Mandari and etc in the game. The same vicious circle could apply as well to Eastern or Western Equatoria or in any other geographical part of South Sudan.

Really, I am against decentralization of government power politics in South Sudan at the moment before achieving "detribalization" first as this breeds serious detrimental tribalism in the process. We have already tasted the harmfulness of tribalism during the Kokora era in 1980s and also now with combination of "Dinkanization" and "Nuerization" of government power politics in South Sudan.

For people’s and God’s sake, let’s not push for more harms and evil practices in South Sudan by calling for more tribalism in the name of regional representation. We have already accumulated more problem than solutions, and it is time to sit back and rethink a bit of what wrong things could be stopped in the emerging new country called South Sudan in the World Map.

Yes to inclusive national building in South Sudan, but No to regional/tribal exclusivity!!!

Dr. James Okuk, is a PhD holder in Political Philosophy from University of Nairobi. He can be reached at [email protected]

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